More European, More Connected, More Capable: Building the European Armed Forces of the Future

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Series Details November 2017
Publication Date November 2017
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The report presents five key choices for European leaders to create connected and capable armed forces for the future:

+ prioritising modernisation of equipment, especially to close the interconnectedness and digitisation gap,
+ investing in making existing equipment more available,
+ moving towards joint European planning and procurement,
+ taking a top-down approach to consolidating the defense industry,
+ boosting defence research and development.

Reaching the goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense by 2024, as agreed by heads of government at the 2014 NATO summit, would greatly help in this endeavour. However, the report's recommendations hold true even in the likely case that not all European states reach that benchmark. More important is that European leaders make the smart choices to lay a foundation for a more capable security policy. Simply doing 'more of the same' would mean missing a unique opportunity that could leave Europe's defense capabilities lagging behind for decades.

The report served as the basis for the discussions at the MSC European Defence Roundtable in Berlin on 30 November 2017. The roundtable brought together 50 senior representatives of European governments, parliaments, militaries, think tanks, and the defence industry.

Background information

Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

In addition to its annual flagship conference, the MSC regularly convenes high-profile events on particular topics and regions and publishes the Munich Security Report. All its activities aim at offering the best possible platforms for a frank and open exchange of ideas and opinions.

In 2016, the MSC was once again named 'Best Think Tank Conference' in the world by an extensive University of Pennsylvania study.Europe stands at a crossroads: Its military capabilities are declining while its security challenges rise and multiply. How can Europe better provide for its own security? The Munich Security Conference’s report, More European, More Connected, More Capable: Building the European Armed Forces of the Future, a research project with McKinsey & Company and the Hertie School's Centre for International Security Policy (CISP), aims to inform this important debate as governments across Europe contemplate significant hikes in military spending.

However, simply spending more is not the answer to every challenge. Which areas should European countries increasingly invest in, and how will they get the best possible security and defense for what they spend? Which parts of the European defense effort should be organized jointly – or even be fully integrated – and which should remain national? In short, how will higher defense budgets translate into more European, more connected, and more capable armed forces? These are among the questions the report tackles.

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Related Links
European Leadership Network: Commentary, 23.11.17: Macron’s 'European Intervention Initiative': More Questions than Answers
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 05.10.17: Macron, the Atlanticist
Carnegie Europe: Strategic Europe, 07.12.17: France Moves From EU Defense to European Defense
EP: EPRS: What Think Tanks are Thinking, December 2017: European defence
Council of the European Union: General Secretariat: Library: Think Tank Review: Special Issue, December 2017: Special issue on defence policy
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 13.11.17: Defence cooperation: 23 member states sign notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)

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